Many folks said How to Break moved and excited them personally, but was perhaps not right for their audiences. As the musical theatre landscape changes, we’re hopeful the villagers waving to us from that landscape will be getting closer and closer.
What work have you all been doing on the show since presenting it to the industry? Did the presentation at the Festival inform any of that work?
The cliffhanging, conflict-infused ending we created for NAMT inspired us to write more tension into the show’s ending. Working with NAMT’s great sound people and our beatboxer Chris “Shockwave” Sullivan showed us we can immerse the audience more fully in the sonic world of the hospital, putting them in the patients’ slippers. Since it’s always been hard to find those teenage-actor-rapper-singer-breaker-popper quintuple threats (perhaps less so since every teenager in the country has memorized Hamilton), NAMT helped us realize we could do without the amazing hip-hop dance in a “concert version” – with a lot smaller budget but decent ticket prices – which we did at Hartbeat Ensemble in Hartford.
What makes Village a great partner for the next step in the show’s development?
The artistic staff at Village has been exposing their audiences to a number of hip-hop musicals over the past few years, so we’re excited about the potential for their audiences’ ears growing attuned to this kind of work. We hope to hear our new draft all the way through for the first time. We’ve been revising for two years since our last workshop production, but have only heard 45 minutes of the show.
What are you hoping is next for How to Break?
A world premiere production in Seattle followed by New York followed by a national tour of urban regional theatres partnering with local hospitals, medical schools and public health departments to foment citywide conversations about race, class, and health.
Why should people come to Washington state to see the reading?
It’s a hip-hop musical, like Hamilton; unlike Hamilton, there are only five performers (including musicians), and no one gets shot. As the nurse mixes patients’ breath and IV beeps into beatboxed hospital soundscapes, and the doctor and therapist wrestle over the health benefits of art versus painkillers, two teenagers break through their diagnoses in search of a gut understanding of what it means to be ill.